New drugs could transform cancer treatment

News — By on July 12, 2009 at 3:27 pm

PARP inhibitors appear to destroy disease, small but stunning study shows
Just-released research about a new class of drugs called “PARP inhibitors” is the most exciting development in cancer research in a decade or more. In just a few years it could save thousands of lives.

In the longer term, the drugs could represent a transformational approach to understanding and treating several forms of the disease.
All this enthusiasm is based on a small report published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It focuses on one clinical trial in its earliest stage in 60 patients with breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Some — but not all — of the patients whose cancers seemed hopeless saw them shrink drastically or disappear. Many avoided the typical side effects — nausea, hair loss — associated with cancer treatment.

Of course, as with any good science, it is not just that one report that generates such excitement. The new research builds on many years of solid basic science and on other clinical trials that are either completed or in progress, which appear to show similarly dramatic reduction of certain breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.

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